Each year the European Commission (EC) holds an SME week with a focus on Entrepreneurship, while also generating public awareness about the opportunities out there for people who wish to start a business or existing businesses who would like to expand their business activities. SMEs also have the opportunity to promote their businesses to a wider audience.
One of the major European events held is the SME Assembly, which took place in Prague on 28-30 November 2022.
More information on the European SME Week can be found here.
The EC also encourages member states to hold such activities. Malta has been holding its SME Week for a number of years, with the aim of providing information on opportunities offered by the EU and national, regional and local authorities in order to support micro, small and medium-sized businesses. Moreover, the Malta SME Week showcases entrepreneurs who contribute to Europe’s welfare, jobs, innovation and competitiveness.
The latest edition of the Malta SME Week for 2022 was held In November, where several events were organised through collaboration among different entities such as the Ministry for the Economy, European Funds and Lands, the Malta Chamber, the Young Chamber Network, the Malta Employers’ Association and Malta Enterprise.
Members of our AcrossLimits team attended 2 different local SME events in order to see what possibilities are offered locally and to get to know more about the current topics of discussion.
Reskilling in the era of AI
This event focused on how efforts can help businesses in investing smartly in their employees in the era of AI. Apart from an introductory address by Marisa Xuereb, President of the Malta Chamber, as well as a presentation by Prof. Joshua Ellul, Director of the Centre for Distributed Ledger Technologies, two panels were held on Education & Upskilling, and AI & Technology, with a diverse portfolio of panellists.
The full event report by The Malta Chamber can be read here.
SMEs National Forum 2022
The MEA SME’s National Forum for 2022 was focused on Ensuring the Skills for Future Competitiveness. A combination of demand and supply factors have led to a shortfall of skills in the Maltese labour market which affects the continuity and competitiveness of Maltese SMEs.
As a result, the MEA has held a series of events in relation to the forum, which are instrumental in discerning the issues/problems that SMEs are being presented with, as well as an exercise to propose concrete solutions and avoid further hardships.
These events consisted of:
- Four focus groups, encompassing some of largest industries in Malta: Transport, ICT, Tourism and Manufacturing
- National Stakeholders Seminar
- SME National Forum
- The publication of a document which will focus on tangible recommendations which will be sent to the National authorities and policy makers for their consideration and implementation
Throughout the forum, the causes and consequences of this skill shortfall were discussed in depth through various presentations, workshops and panel discussions. Afterwards, speakers and panels presented different short term as well as long term recommendations for both policy makers, as well as the SMEs themselves and other Maltese institutions such as the education sector.
Some other events held during the Malta SME week, which AcrossLimits was unable to attend, was the Achieving a sustainable regulatory environment event held by The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and the Malta Business Registry and the The Road to Decarbonisation forum held by The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry.
Discovering EU Funded Schemes Webinar
Another local event targeted at SMEs, which was however not part of SME week, was the
Discovering EU Funded Schemes Webinar organised by Jobsplus in collaboration with Business Enhance.
It was an informative overview of all the EU-funded schemes for Maltese SMEs implemented by Jobplus and also by the Measures and Support Division in the Ministry for the Economy, European Funds and Lands. There are quite a number of useful support schemes that allow SMEs to tap into EU funding to support their employment capacity, staff training, capital, equipment, and to invest in R&D projects.
These events were interesting for AcrossLimits since we engage in European projects on education, upskilling, AI and Technology, some of which focus on SMEs.
At the moment, we have two ongoing Erasmus+ projects which are targeted at SMEs.
Venture Alliances is an initiative that is powered by the ENVISIONAlliances project, funded by the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). It is a platform that matches academic innovators with industry enterprises to enable the effective commercialisation of research-based innovations. Participants can now submit their application here to join the Venture Alliances industry-academia matchmaking and collaboration platform. More information can be found on the Venture Alliances website.
The Practical AI Training Tool for Digital Transformation of SMEs (PAITool) project aims to develop and test new flexible opportunities for VET on Artificial Intelligence, that will support SME staff in adapting to and enacting digital transformation by learning how to incorporate AI systems and tools in their own business structure and gain a competitive edge in the market. SMEs who are interested in being involved in this project, either as expert consultants or as participants in the online webinars or physical workshops in Malta and Slovakia, can contact us at [email protected].